Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm off to Idaho

Probably no posting until around July 3rd. Read Instapundit instead(link over to the right). TTB

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Two views on Iraq

The folks over at PowerLine have done a great job of juxtaposing two very different views on the current situation in Iraq. One is a column by Mackubin T. Owens, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College, the other by Thomas L. Friedman, well known columnist for the New York Times. One comes across like he knows what he is talking about (and like the ppl in charge of the war do as well) while the other sounds like he has a serious case of the vapors, and that the ppl running the war ought to.

Those two columns are well worth a read together. Neither is long.

Robert Samuelson: "Europe is history's has-been."

Robert Samuelson joins those who are worried about Europe's long-term future, and is sayng so.
Europe's economy is already faltering. In the 1970s annual growth for the 12 countries now using the euro averaged almost 3 percent; from 2001 to 2004 the annual average was 1.2 percent. In 1974 those countries had unemployment of 2.4 percent; in 2004 the rate was 8.9 percent...

...A few countries (Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands) have acted, and there are differences between Eastern and Western Europe. But in general Europe is immobilized by its problems. This is the classic dilemma of democracy: Too many people benefit from the status quo to change it; but the status quo isn't sustainable.
While some might indulge in a bit of pleasure at their discomfort, Samuelson knows better:
All this is bad for Europe -- and the United States. A weak European economy is one reason that the world economy is shaky and so dependent on American growth.
And a declining, statist Europe will be no bulwark against militant Islamists.

Thanks to Rich Lowry at NRO's The Corner for the lead. Unlike Lowry, I don't think that Samuelson's column is a "wonderful blast", but yet another voice added to those who notice the decline of Europe. It isn't good for Europe, and it isn't good for us.

The consequences of a couple hundred years of decline in absolute terms (rather than simply relative to the more dynamic parts of the world) would be lousy. Still, a small number of countries have worked to change things, and more may eventually join. The policies are reversable.

Jazzy Cassi

Honolulu, jellyfish, and the State

The NY Times covers the problem of jellyfish stinging ppl at Keehi Lagoon, near the Honolulu airport. The micro-guys are so bad that a regatta was cancelled last weekend, and this coming's has been moved. Naturally, the cure of first resort is, well, if you know Hawaii and the political mindset there, you have guessed it:
Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association president Hannie Anderson...said the state Department of Health was informed months ago that there was a problem, and she hopes the state can do something about it.
Maybe the State Legislature will make it illegal to sting canoers. Or just tax the tourist industry some more.

What Wachovia Corp. apologized for:

The short take of course is: they once were involved in slavery and slaveholding.

A bit more nuanced take, tho, might include this, as supplied by Wesley Pruden , editor in chief of the Washington Times:
Wachovia acquired First Union Bank in 2001, which in turn had acquired First Railroad & Banking Corp. (1986), which had acquired Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust Co. (1954), which had acquired Georgia Railroad Bank (1929), which had acquired Georgia Railroad and Banking Company (1835), which had acquired the Georgia Railroad Company. Georgia Railroad was organized in 1833 to lay tracks from Augusta into the interior of Georgia, and Georgia Railroad had once purchased a slave blacksmith.

But there was more. Another acquisition in Wachovia's gene pool was the Bank of Charleston, which during the three decades before the War Between the States had accepted title to "up to 529 slaves" as collateral for loans.
So, if Wachovia is tainted by this connection to slavery, would it be cleansed by any connection to Union forces during the Civil War? It seems to me that if tainting is possible, then cleansing is the flip side of the coin: Impossible to have one without the other. If some ancestral entity made loans to the US or to US military suppliers during the Civil War, that should even the balance, wouldn't it?

Somehow I think the Apostles of Grievance would find that suggestion challenging, offensive, and preferably downright prosecutably racist. Such is life.

I do think that dragging up 150 year old outrages committed by now-dead ppl against now-dead ppl- and they were certainly monstrous ones- is exactly the thing that has kept the world at war for hundreds if not thousands of years. I don't know if the Apostlers are unaware of that, or if they understand that very well indeed and are determined to make a good living off of exacerbating ethnic and racial hostility.

Mr. bin Laden and his equally distinguished confreres manage to be outraged by the "tragedy of Iberia" -the reconquest of Spain by the Spanish which was finished in 1492- and are determined to reverse that tragedy. I have yet to hear, however, of Spanish calls for apologies and reparations from the Moors for conquering Spain in the first place. Perhaps they are missing a good bet.

And of course the eastern Europeans might lay a similar claim against the Moors' descendants for that invasion. There might be some reasonable counter-claims lodged against Transylvania, as the original Dracula- Prince Vlad, also known as The Impaler- did treat Moorish prisoners rather shabbily. Almost as badly, in fact, as we Americans apparently treat prisoners at Guantanomo. Well, ok, not quite: Vlad only camped on a hillside while watching thousands of impaled Moors take a few days to die, while of course Rummy and Cheney dance around their campfire, while roasting prisoners and marshmallows. Or something like that.

And the Greeks, what about them? Why haven't Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan sued them for the depredations of Alexander the "Great"? I bet a nickel that the Greeks haven't even thought about apologizing for that, much less offered reparations.

Lemme see now. Ah yes: The Aztecs. Now there are some ppl who owe serious payments to everybody in the neighborhood for all the slaving and sacrificing and imperializing they did before the Spanish showed up. And there were some Spaniards flayed during that little affair, so their descendants surely have a claim against Mexico as the lineal descendant of the Aztecs.

And what about the Iroquois? They not only committed war crimes against the neighbors, including poor long suffering English, but today their descendents have big casino bucks. Well worth stirring up some hatred there.

I sometimes think that one of the better things which could happen to the world is the universal destruction of archives public and private, and the re-employment of archivists and historians as executives and McDonalds clerks.

My previous post on this: Wachovia, slaves, race hustlers, & running with one's tail between one's legs.

Thanks to Power Line for the lead to Pruden's column.

Of Bears and Beer

All you camper types should learn from this sad tale:
DUNBAR, W.Va. (AP) -- Larry Gaynor..., 67, and his brother, Billy Bob Gaynor, 53, were camping...on Friday when the bear wandered into their campsite at about 9 p.m.

Hearing a noise, they looked outside their tent and saw the bear with its mouth clamped on their cooler. Larry Gaynor said the bear dragged the cooler 30 yards into the woods and flung it against a tree, scattering a case of Coors Light.

"He only drank three cans," Larry he said. "He would've drank all of them if it would've been Budweiser."
Bereft of sustenance, the Gaynors had to cut short their camping trip. The real cause of this ruckus of course was the Gaynor freres failure to drink that case of Coors before going to bed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Were humans in the Americas 12,200 years ago?

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) -- Archaeologists have returned to a dig near the Colorado-Kansas border for a third summer, but this year's dig has taken on new importance. Radiocarbon dating results...showed that mammoth and prehistoric camel bones found at a rural site near Kanorado, about a mile from the Colorado border, dated back to 12,200 years ago.

That would mean people who once camped at the site may have arrived in the Great Plains 700 years before historians previously thought.

The bones appear to have tool marks made by humans, who probably broke them to extract marrow for food or to make tools, said Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
A funny thing about some archaeologists is that they think lack of evidence is the same thing as evidence for absence. Just because the earliest sites found go back only 11,500 years is no evidence no one was here before that. The idea that the earliest site ever found (decades ago) is necessarily the oldest ever is just plain silly.
But workers at the site would be thrilled to find evidence to push back the dates humans arrived in the Great Plains.

If such an artifact was found, the researchers say, it would raise questions about whether the earliest inhabitants of North America came across the Bering Strait from Asia. Instead, they may have arrived by boat in South America and journeyed northward.
I wish the reporter had explained that last bit. So far as I know there is no evidence whatsoever for people being in Polynesia or Micronesia anywhere near that early (I know, I know: absence of evidence, etc, but that is a big absence), and without Polynesia as a jumping off spot there is no way people made it from Melanesia or Indonesia to South America in boats. Nor was there any suggestion about why ppl would pass up Polynesia and keep driving on to South America, since they didn't know it was there.

Perhaps ppl moved from Siberia thru Alaska and down the coast all the way to southern South America before they ventured inland into North America, but that doesn't seem to be what the AP is suggesting. It may of course just be a small bit of mis-reporting by a generalist journo. The NYTimes has the story.

Off to Idaho

Starting Thursday, posting will be light to nonexistent until early July. I'm leaving for Idaho in a day or two to rendezvous with my girlfriend and meet her family for several days of rafting on the River of No Return (Don't sweat the name: Marilyn Monroe made it back, and she had Indians and Otto Preminger to deal with). If they don't approve of me I may find my pockets filled with rocks and the raft overturned, in which case the emphasis should be on "nonexistent" rather than "light."

Valerie has listed various post-rafting possibilities including an expedition eastward from Arimo to Bear Lake, reporting that "Garden City is on the shores of the lake and is actually the destination cuz they make the best Raspberry shakes in the entire universe." Hard to argue with that.

UPDATE: Said girlfriend has provided a link for all you raspberry aficionados: Click here: Raspberry Lane: Grandma's Kitchen

DOUBLEUPDATE: Any folk art fancier might take after the shop sign in the background of the lower left pic of this competitor of the raspberry shake monger. Shoup shakes are apparently highly regarded by shake cognoscenti.

Now then, I must be attacking the laundry or I won't get out of here 'til Sunday.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I have no idea why this made...

...the APOD site, but it is cool. Anyway, it's the Cool Space Pic of the Day.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bipolar Butterfly

It would take a lot of lithium to treat this case.

It's a Cool Space Pic of the Day

The Secret Downing Street Memo...

...over which considerable ruckus is being raised in the UK. I am a bit unclear on just why that is the case. Seems like a lot of "So what?" is in order. Perhaps some would like to clue me in.

Anyway, here it is.

Thanks to howie for the lead. If I interpret his User Profile correctly he is a Marx-ward leaning education major at Princeton: Obviously smart, unfortunately misguided.

UPDATE: PowerLine had some comments on this a month or so ago. I'm glad to see they are about equally unimpressed, and give a better crit.